Changing tides: how consumers and merchants are redefining the payment experience

Retail payments bring together retailers and consumers, and the two-sided nature of this market means that the design of payment methods must reflect the needs of both sides. Today, the competitive landscape for retail payments in Europe is rapidly transforming due to changing consumer preferences, technological progress, regulatory intervention and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. How are the expectations of consumers and merchants redefining the payment experience?

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Spotlight on tax and state aid: the General Court’s Apple judgment

In July 2020, the EU General Court annulled the European Commission’s decision that Ireland had granted illegal state aid of at least €13bn to Apple through two tax rulings. The General Court’s judgment in the Apple case was one of the most keenly awaited judgments in the area of state aid. What are the key economic issues raised by the General Court in this case? More generally, how can multinational companies and national tax authorities mitigate state aid risks?

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Abuse, She Wrote

Jessica Fletcher and her fellow protagonists in whodunnit stories, such as Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot, knew the formula: find the motive of the suspect, and you have solved half the crime. Dr Gunnar Niels, Partner at Oxera, discusses how competition authorities sometimes behave as if they were in a detective novel by Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, focusing on the intent of the dominant company.

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Flying through the storm: aligning merger control and state support

Many firms are facing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19, and are receiving state support. However, we have not (yet) seen the predicted increase in merger activity. Is it preferable to provide state aid to companies in order to allow them to continue operating, or should we allow these ‘failing or flailing’ firms to be acquired by others? Which is the right tool to use, and could there be more alignment between them?

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What problems can the European Commission’s New Competition Tool fix?

On 2 June, the European Commission launched consultations on proposals for a New Competition Tool (NCT) and its Digital Services Act package. We look at the proposals for the NCT, drawing on lessons from the UK market investigations regime, and in particular the ability to use market investigations to act more quickly and effectively to remedy competition problems

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Catchment if you can: a practical guide to local competition analysis

Many markets involve local or regional competition between firms. Retailers, hospitals, airports, and even funeral directors compete for their customers locally. Empirical techniques for analysing competition in local markets have developed and become more sophisticated over time. But which techniques provide the most accurate assessment? We discuss and compare a range of practical methods that have been used in recent competition cases

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Paying up: the new economics of payment systems

Retail payments play an important role in the functioning of modern society. However, they are currently going through a period of upheaval due to changes in technology, consumer behaviour and regulation, and most recently the global COVID-19 pandemic. What are the underlying economics behind retail payment systems, and what are their implications for competition in the sector?

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Decarbonising transport: a just transition?

In March, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) published ‘Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge’, a policy paper outlining current and planned policies needed to decarbonise the UK’s domestic transport sector. We provide a commentary on some of the DfT’s strategic priorities—the shift to active and public transport, as well as the decarbonisation of the passenger vehicle fleet. We then discuss some of the wider social implications raised by the proposed measures

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Engaging the disengaged: why does it matter, and why is it hard?

Why do consumers become disengaged from effective decision-making, and how can we improve engagement and market outcomes? Amelia Fletcher, Professor of Competition Policy at the University of East Anglia, UK, looks at the latest developments in this fast-moving area, and discusses a number of insights from her recent paper on disclosure and other tools for enhancing engagement

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To provide or not to provide access? The Dutch broadband joint SMP case

On 17 March 2020, the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) published its long-awaited verdict on the appeal against the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) 2018 finding of joint dominance in the Dutch retail broadband market. Why did the CBb rule in favour of the appellants, and what are the implications of this finding for the regulation of wholesale broadband access in the telecoms sector?

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Calculating the cover charge: business interruption insurance and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on businesses across the world. Many have turned to their insurance providers to claim compensation under their business interruption (BI) insurance. However, even if a firm is covered for financial losses caused by the pandemic, determining the compensation amount is far from straightforward. What are the challenges, from an economic and financial perspective, in determining the compensation for these policyholders?

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